“The forest was shrinking but the trees kept voting for the axe, for the axe was clever and convinced the trees that because his handle was made of wood, he was one of them.” Turkish Proverb
It is very rare that I would write a follow up piece to one of my opinion pieces, however, this is one time when I feel it necessary to do so.
In my opinion piece dated May 5, 2021 (To vaccinate or not to vaccinate), I dared to advocate for respecting the rights of Bermudians to choose whether or not to take the jab. To be crystal clear, I did not advocate which way the right should be exercised. That was not the purpose of the opinion piece.
The op-ed was more focused on the PLP’s track record of creating and exploiting racial and class divisions. I also offered words of caution that a new division was being purposely created between those who are vaccinated and those that are unvaccinated. In addition, I expressed appreciation to those that have shown enthusiasm and also to those who are apprehensive and hesitant about this vaccine.
I offered encouragement to the Government to respect everyone’s choice and to achieve their policy agenda through persuasion rather than bullying, segregation, discrimination and coercion. Bermudians are literally faced with a life-or-death decision. They should make their decision after thoughtful consideration and not because of the dictates of the Premier.
However, Premier Burt found it irresistible to offer a response to my opinion piece during the recent sitting of the House during the motion to adjourn on May 21, 2021. He indirectly berated me for my position. It is no wonder that I have been faced with such a backlash from the Premier for taking a stance different to the Government’s.
The Premier was the last one to speak and he expressed these words after OBA MP Michael Dunkley expressed his support for the Government’s efforts to have people vaccinated.
Premier Burt declared, “I would hope that he (Michael Dunkley) also channels that internally amongst his own members of the party that he belongs to. Especially one of the members he elevated to the Senate (Vic Ball) who has given the absolute opposite line in the public sphere. If we are going to be united in this then we should make sure that we put all of our efforts to account across the board. So, I would urge the honorable opposition leader (Cole Simons) who I spoke to myself on this very issue that it is merely hollow in my view to say that you support. I think that you should be very forceful especially to those persons who purport to represent your party, that they are also on board and not trying to be purposively divisive for the purpose of politics, because you cannot speak with a forked tongue.”
Correct me if necessary, but it certainly appears that the Premier is clearly calling for the quashing of political dissent or differences of opinion on this issue which unfortunately is consistent with his leadership style. I warned Bermuda about this very subject over a year ago (Pandemic threat to democracy). Now Bermuda knows why all of the PLP MP’s and Senators are mute on this issue. He has clearly forced them to be silent just as he is asking the Opposition to silence me.
In case you have not noticed Premier Burt, this autocratic your-way-or-the-highway stance is presiding over thirty-three Covid deaths, thousands of Covid cases, increasing job losses and redundancies, declining home values and high foreclosures, businesses closing at an alarming rate, the eroding of our middle class, increased domestic violence, increased mental health issues, the education of our children is in disarray and a host of other negative impacts for the majority of the people of our country. All of this is occurring while our battered economy is shackled by a crushing debt and no viable economic plan is on the horizon.
However, at the same time Covid has paid handsome dividends for the Premier and his inner circle. He called a snap election during a pandemic so that he, the Cabinet and others in favor will greatly benefit while Bermuda and Bermudians continue to suffer the unbearable consequences.
If this isn’t egregious enough, the Premier is now attempting to further corrupt our politics by baiting the Opposition into mindless endorsement of his policies. He appears to have already succeeded in co-opting the labour movement into betraying their membership. It is as if no other position is to be expressed other than the PLP party narrative on what is to be done or how it should be done. The Premier wants everyone to follow the “Brilliance of Burt” with no opposition all the way to economic ruin.
Bermuda requires the Opposition, the FDM, the FDA, the unions and other political activist groups to hold the government accountable to avoid the blunders and failures of the Burt administration that is costing the people of the island dearly.
As one of the few dissenting voices as to how vaccinations should be handled, the Premier believes that I am to be forcefully whipped in line, ostracized or otherwise made an example of. Talk about forked-tongued hypocrisy!
Only a fool would take advice from their adversary without suspicion. Especially from a Premier with a depressing and damaging track record that history is recording every day despite the grandiose speeches. The OBA has to distinguish itself more as a party with room for thoughtful dissenting voices in its preparation to form a better government that has the ability to lead Bermuda again out of the deep dark hole being dug by the PLP under the leadership of Premier David Burt.